These questions do not include one that I consider a nobrainer: Is Sadaam a bad leader? I'm working with the assumption that we agree that he is a terrible leader.
1) Do you think Iraq has WOMDs?
My answer: I suspect they retained some chemical weapons.
2) Do you think Sadaam will accept the new resolution before Friday?
My answer: I give it a 70% chance that by Friday it will be accepted.
3) If they are accepted do you think there will still be a war?
My answer: Yes, I think Sadaam will either balk at an inspection of a presidential site (especiallly if he is nearby) or that the US will find a material breach (even if those words were stricken from the resolution) regardless of how the inspections play out.
4) If there is a war do you think it will be easy?
My answer: "hope for the best, prepare for the worst", many things can go wrong but I think it will be easy if the Republican guard doesn't put up a fight. Sadaam is already wary of them and they might surrender.
5) Do you think the post war occupation will be easy?
My answer: No, I think it will be costly and I doubt that the troops will be viewed as liberators by anyone except the kurds.
6) Do you think other nations will use the precedent as an excuse for their own actions?
My answer: It's my fear but I don't think other nations will do so. I do wonder what we will say if India invades Pakistan preemptively. They can once again (like they did before the latest buildup) use Bush bytes verbatim to make it hard for Washington to lean on them. Pakistan has nuclear weapons (as does India) so they can even play the WOMD card.
But I don't think it's likely.
7) Do you think that we will control the oil interests after the war?
My answer: Yes, at least to cover the costs of rebuilding. But I vehemently reject the idea that the war is a pretext for an oil grab. That would be daft.
8) Do you think the occupation force will be a target for attacks?
My answer: I think they will be greatly resented but I doubt there will be many attacks on them. This answer becomes a no if we manage to convince others to handle the occupation job again.
9) Do you think that this war will guarantee Bush's reelection?
My answer: No such thing as a political guarantee but if it comes down to war I think Bush will be elected president again. It has shown to be a good campaign issue and the war rating will help as well.
10) Do you think oil prices will rise?
My answer: I think it won't rise nearly as much as some of the predictions, but if the Arab street manages to force a strike in countries like Saudi Arabia (I doubt it since they have an understanding with us that goes: "we will never use oil as a weapon against you, now let's be friends") prices might rise if Venesuela and Russia don't pick up the slack. I also think we have been stockpiling.
11) Do you think the economy will take a hit?
My answer: Economy is hell to predict but I suspect the economy worldwide will dip if the war drags on.
12) Do you think that Sadaam was a threat to the United States?
My answer: No. I think he would never have considered attacking the US even through proxy till we put a bull's eye on his face. I don't think he has anything against America exept for the fact that we stand in the way of his goals (which are all regional).
He has no capacity to project power (is it 3 or 5 ships?) and the notion of Sadaam teaming up with terrorists to strike America is not based on anything but hyperbolic conjecture. Though possible (anything is possible) I rate this as a rallying scare tactic.
I also think this is moot now. Once you set your sights on a guys head he will likely become hostile to you. So while I don't think he was even a remote threat to America I think that he now might just be angry/paranoid enough to be a threat.
13) Despite how despicable Sadaam is, how do you feel about setting a precedent of "might is right" and of using preemptive invasions to topple unsavory governments.
My answer: If the U.N continues to go along with us despite their reluctance it is less of an important precedent. If we undermine the UN (like in a case where we say the inspections are not being cooperated with but everyone else disagrees) and wage war I think it will be the all time worst move in US history.
I hope that: Sadaam dies suddenly of natural causes. Without the notoriety of Sadaam there will be little mandate for war. It's hard to claim that a dead dictator needs replacing.
That Sadaam realizes that he really must let his toys go and bend over backwards for the inspectors.
That if he does this we won't wage war anyway (since the stated goal is "regime change" getting rid of his weapons won't satisfy the hardliners).
Powell says that if he is peacefully disarmed it will have been a regime change as the regime will have "fundamentally changed". But he's a dove. I think the hawks won't settle for that.
If war happens:
I hope the Republican guard turns on Sadaam. I doubt anyone in the inner circle will be tray him but the Republican guard is already out of this circle. I hope they get tired of bombs falling on their heads and give up before they all die. This will hasten the war.
I hope that the threat of fierce urban combat doesn't materialize. This means I hope the early strategic hits go well and that ground troops don't go in prematurely.
I hope it doesn't become a free-for-all in regard to the oil control. This will only validate the, in my opinion, false accusations that this is a pretext for an oil grab.
I hope that Russian, French and Chinese interests are not ignored. I also hope that we follow through on the deals to sell cheap oil to the countries that were buying illegally from Iraq. They will have swallowed a dry mouthful to let us go to war and I hope we don't thumb our noses at them afterward.
I hope we do a better job than in Afghanistan, where our interest is already fading. Thankfully Iraq is no Afghanistan.
I hope there is no backlash.
I hope that nobody uses it as justification for similar measures. I don't want to see yet more governments deciding that they should use war to topple the governments they don't agree with.
As always please keep it civil. I have no intention of having a doves vs. hawks debate. I want to focus on issues and not leanings.
Re: The Iraq Questions
Splendid website, sir, splendid! Thank you for you effort and accomplishment.
Now to the meat of this matter:
1) I have no doubt Iraq possesses both Chemical and Biological Agents ... though how effectively "Weaponized" those agents may be is open to some question.
2) I imagine the Iraqi Parliament has been instructed to reject UN 1441 on Wednesday. The world media will go nuts, then on Friday, Saddam will announce "reluctantly" that "As a man of peace, with nothing to hide", he will, "Out of concern to avoid further suffering for his innocent people" he will accede to the Resolution
3) Saddam will dance and parley to the best of his considerable ability, delaying and obstructing the process of inspection untill such inevitable point as "Material Breach" is agreed upon by the major members of the Security Council. There will be war.
4) No war is easy. This war, however, will be unprecedented in its suddenness, ferocity, and rapid effectiveness, involve few US/UN casualties and result in minimal collateral damage. Accidents and "Freindly Fire" incidents will do more damage to US/UN forces than will Iraqi Military Action. Should Sadaam use CBW agents against our troops or a third country, the conequences for him and his regime will be even more dire, and will thoroughly validate our intervention in the eyes of the world.
5) Occupation by its very nature is onerous and frought with peril. Hopefully, occupation will be carried out by a multi-national force specifically including numerous Moslem Elements.
6) I doubt other nations will take advantage of the situation, though North Korea and, to a lesser extent, China are wild cards.
7) I foresee rapid Privatization of Iraqi Oil Production, likely with considerable nod given to existing Russian and other Former Soviet Republic deals. The major US involvement I see is in the area of infrastructure repair and modernization. We'll be quite happy to pay the Russians $22/Bbl for Iraqi oil.
8) I don't see concerted effort to harrass and attack occupation forces. I rather suspect the populace, apart from the few inevitable hard-line Ba'athist survivors will be glad to be rid of Saddam and Crew.
9) Bush's re-election is not guaranteed, but a successful war, lower oil prices, reduced global tension, an improved economy, and the inevitable internecine warfare in the Democratic Party as it seeks to lay blame for its decline and search for leadership and direction while attempting to block, hinder, and delay Republican initiatives tilt the odds heavily in Bush's favor.
10) Short term, there will be a war-related price spike in oil. As Iraqi production comes on line and re-enters the world market, oil will stabilize somewhere in the low $20's per barrel, which allows excellent profit and cashflow for Arab, Ex-Soviet, European, US, and Latin American producers alike.
11) 2003 promises a sluggish, but positive global economic recovery. This can only be helped by stable oil prices and reduced international tension. Real recovery should be evident by 2004, just in time to boost Bush's Election Prospects. I'm sure this has been taken into account in Washington.
12) In that Sadaam was a threat to his region, and thereby a huge portion of the planet's oil, he most certainly is/was a threat to The US and the rest of the Civilized World. For justification of "Regime Change", one need look no further than the Germany of the Twentieth Century's mid 'Thirties.
Calls were made for Forced Regime Change, but were overridden by pacifism and appeasement, with tragic but thoroughly predictable result. Such can never again be allowed to happen, and that is the core purpose of the UN. The World is a Village now more than ever. Any village needs a police force. A visible, prepared, credible police force is an effective deterrent to would-be predators. The US must not BE the police force, but it is obliged, both as a nation in the world community, and more importantly as the single most powerful, economically and militarily capable nation in the world community, to be a component of that police force.
I also think The Greenbay Packers are going to have a banner year.
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 08:16 am
The world needs oil, there is no doubt about that. And the US needs oil more than anyone else. Iraqi crude (with low sulphur content), will do nicely. After that Iran and so join up with the 'stans of the Caspian basin, and that's it. America's oil supply is safe and secure until the oil itself runs out, or the hydrogen economy comes on stream, whichever sooner. I support this strategy but don't let anyone try and kid you it is done in a noble cause for the "liberation" of Iraq or anything like it.
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 10:40 am
What Iraq might look like after the war is possibly best ascertained by a view to why it is going to happen at all. This link was posted originally by fakename on abuzz, and it's of some length, but it is the most thorough analysis of administration motives I've bumped into. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v24/n19/liev01_.html
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 10:58 am
You make your post too long and complicated, Boss.
Saddam will test the waters of the muslim world, to see if he thinks he will have support, either from governments, or from enough "average" muslims to co-opt the positions taken by governments. Timberlandko has stated this very nicely in his #2.
I think the Shrub, acting as front man for Cheney's administration, will try every way he can to get a war, because that what Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al want. They screwed up in 1991, and there's no re-set function for this video game, so they wanna go back in.
I don't think any such war will be easy. We're going to be obliged to do this from the decks of carriers and from Marine landing and support ships--i say that because i don't believe that any nation in the region will want to provide us with a base of operations. The Turks may let us continue to use Incerlik, though even that is "iffy." Bahrain has already stated that we cannot use them for a naval base in the event of war with Iraq. I doubt that Saudia Arabia will want us to use airbases or to stage invasion forces within their territory. Little Kuwait MIGHT let us use their territory, if only because that Iraqi bastard has never accounted for all of the young Kuwaiti men who disappeared in brief ground war of 1991. By and large, though, i think we'll have to project American and English power from the seas--and no one in the region is in a position to stop that. They might protest, but, as i don't believe any member of those regional government has any other sentiments toward Saddam than fear and loathing, they might just well keep their mouths shut as we attack from the sea, because they can always take a "what could we do" position with regard to criticism from their militant muslim citizens.
I doubt that the Republican Guard will turn on Saddam, unless they can produce a leader who could organize a good shot at taking him down quickly. That is doubtful--during the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam's armored forces never performed as well as they might have, because he never allows any officer to remain in command of an armored unit for more than a few months--thereafter they are transferred to another arm of the service, and the other side of the country. His government is that of a minority tribe, not uncommon in the middle east--he got to power through a palace coup within the Ba'at Arab Socialist Party, and he's canny enough to have taken every conceivable step to prevent that happening to him. That said, it is very possible--though how probable, i don't know--that the Guard could just roll over and play dead, if it looks like a debacle from the Iraqi point of view.
An occupation would be a nightmare, because the likely scenario will be a competition for power such as occurred in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, with a much more murderous and bitter struggle likely. You have the tribal rivalries of central Iraq, among Sunni muslims, who hate the Shiites of the south and the Kurds of the north, all of whom cordially hate and mistrust one another.
Not a pretty picture in any of this. Frankly, i think Saddam needs to go, but since they screwed it up in 1991, waiting him out, à la Qaddaffi in Lybia, was probably the best alternative. I don't doubt that Saddam wants WMD's, nor that he would use them, given what he considers the right circumstances. I do doubt that he is anywhere close to being able to do so, and the embargo, continued, would eventually choke him. Qaddaffi caved in because he feared a coup such as the one he used to gain power in 1969, and Saddam's case would not have been much different. But now, the Cheney administration has pretty well destroyed that option.
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 11:04 am
2) Probably not.
6) Most probably, in the next decades, but I doubt it in the short run. The US is too powerful at the moment.
7) Yes. And oil is no lesser pretext.
9) "It's the economy, stupid!". So I don't know.
10) The problem is not the price, but the varying; the problem is that it won't stabilize.
11) Hard to predict. That's why question 9 is hard to predict.
13) It's a back to the fifties-sixties-seventies policies that gave the US a bad name. Islamic fundamentalism and authoritarianism has an even worse around-the world press than Communism did, less political, ideological and military power. and less leverage at the UN.
I agree with Craven. The key for a successful US policy is to put pressure on the UN, not to overlook it. If, in this case, the US treates the UN as if it were a Kangaroo court, -it has been done defending Israel's excesses and the embargo against Cuba-, the results will backlash against the Americans.
(And I'm happy to agree with timberlandko about the Packers).
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 11:11 am
Yeah, but Cheeseheads have traditionally done poorly against heavily equipped armored divisions--although the maintenance record of the Republican Guard is not good . . . so, you might have a shot . . .
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 11:23 am
Cheeseheads ROCK!! (I'm gonna have to do the GB avatar thing, aren't I...?)
Craven de Kere
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 06:04 pm
When, as I expect, Sadaam accepts the resolution I think he will use the word zionist (maybe) and am pretty sure he will make mention of how "Iraq follows UN resolutions unlike other countries".
I simply don't agree that post gulf war Sadaam was a threat to Americans on the scale he was being painted to be. He was not being painted to be a regional threat, he was painted to be one who was about to deliver a "mushroom cloud" to the citizens of America. That I think was hyperbole at best.
I agree that he will likely try to feign compliance while eventually coming to a sticky point. But I also believe that if he does not obstruct it will make no difference and there will be war. This is based on my opinion that inspections were never the goal.
I agree that this war will probably be different and swifter than others.
Re: oil. I think 22 sounds good. But only if the war doesn't take long. And there is no reprisal from the street that makes OPEC take a stand (which I think would be like shooting themselves in the foot BTW).
What about 13 BTW? It's loaded but the one I'm most concerned about.
I don't think it's about liveration or oil as much as it's about rewriting the map (not borders but geopolitical paradigims).
Long eh? Prolly whay I haven't read it yet. ;-)
I think that while Arab nations might publicly say no about bases they will privately get in on the deal when it looks to be inevitable. If they stay out they miss the post game party.
I agree about the Republican guard. By turn on Sadaam I meant give up as I don't expect them to switch sides. I'm thinking more along the lines of find a crater to hide in.
My greatest concern is that the UN might be a victim of this. If they concede too much they are "puppets" if they don't play along they are "an irrelevant debating club". As the only such forum for world affairs I'd hate to see themn undermined. I think a strong UN is a much greater concern for the security of the world than is the regime of any nation (with the exception of those who can affort to flout the UN).
As to the Cheeseheads: How are my Cowboys doing?
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 06:10 pm
Craven, as for your #13, i may be naive here, but i do believe that a good deal of the objection made in the UN and in the Arab League is precisely on that basis, and is made by men and women of good will . . . The Shrub playin' the cowboy worries a lot of people around the globe exactly because such action could lead to a precedent so many DON'T want to see established--frankly, i agree with that . . .
Craven de Kere
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 06:16 pm
We see pretty much eye to eye there. I don't like to characterize Bush as the cowboy but I do think he pays little attention to the fact that he might just open a can of worms here.
I agree with fbaezer in that the US is powerful enough that we won't see the negative side effects right away but I'm very concerned that someday we will hear a call to "disarm America and it's weapons of mass destruction".
Ok, I'm kidding but this one isn't too far off "Prolaim the mideast a nuclear free zone".
That has already been said and it's an obvious reference to Israel.
I wonder what will happen when someone submits a resolution calling for inspections and disarmament of Israel and then when we veto it decide that they will "do it with the UN or without it".
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 06:21 pm
The Arab League has just called for the removal of weapons of mass destruction from Isreal, and it is to me simple justice that they would propose this in the face of the resolution which the US has finally arm-twisted through the security council . . . i'm frankly disgusted with the Isrealis lately, and disgusted that we continue to try to cover for them, they have shamelessly taken advantage of US support to flout every agreement they have made on peace with the Palestinians at the behest of the US . . . and they fuel the fanaticism which scumbags like Saddam use as a weapon against the other muslim governments . . .
Tue 12 Nov, 2002 07:00 pm
O.K., here's my take.
We should have taken Saddam down in '91, but didn't. The question of Arab support in the coalition means almost nothing. In his ghosted biography, Schwartzkopf comments that he was riding the VII Corps commander to press on, and not getting the response, nor the aggressive tactical activity he wanted. Although i'm no believer in conspiracy theories, i have often wondered about this. I do believe that, for reasons which i don't believe any of us can discern with assurance, the Bush administration eased off of Iraq. Whether or not the unsatisfactory performance of VII Corps was coincidence, or orchestrated by Powell, i could not say, and won't speculate--it was just something which made me wonder.
It is entirely possible, of course, that Bush, Cheney and Powell actually did decide to end it when they did for the ludicrously simple minded reason that they could call it the "100 Hour War." To paraphrase Mencken, nobody will ever go broke betting on how low the intellectual level of that crew could be set.
Now we've got the Cheney administration in office. You've got Cheney calling the shots, Rumsfeld at Defense, and Powell at State. I would only go so far as to say that Powell may be as reluctant a participant in this administration's dull-witted scheming as he seemed to be with the Shrub's pappy--but participate he did, and does today.
They wanna get Saddam--they wanna get him so bad they can taste it. With a clown like Saddam, finding a pretext should not be hard--right? Sadly, the answer is "wrong." Saddam has kept his head pretty well down. He's savvy enough to know he can lob AAA up at the Yankee and Brit jets, and not draw too much attention, but he's not given us any excuse to link him to the "war on terror." So the Shrub is obliged to wing it, dredge the whole issue up virtually without preamble. All administration attempts to link Saddam to Bin Laden's Too Live Crew were feeble, and even that bunch were smart enough not to pursue them. All they can do is put the Shrub out front to play the tough guy, who cares enough about the world's future not to let a madman like Saddam threaten anyone anymore. Kim Jil Yong (or whatever the hell he calls himself) can run lose with nukes in the Korean penninsula, but Saddam must go. Our puppet in Pakistan can flout all the parlaimentary precedents of his own country, and violate the law to stay in power, while dancing the thin line separating India and Pakistan from a nuclear exchange--but Saddam must go. I'll not bring up any more examples, but will point out that the Arab League has ever justifiable reason to question why Isreal should have nukes, given their record as peace-makers, while we're out for Iraqi blood.
Now we are faced with war, because, no matter what tortured path it has taken, the current adminstration has willed it, and i firmly believe this is because of the make-up of the administration--because Cheney, Rumsfeld, and, to a lesser extent, Powell, want this.
Like his barely more than an idiot father, the Shrub really has no idea what this will entail. In the Gulf War, the 101st along with the French, came long distance from virtually empty desert. The VII Corps and the English armored units were much closer to Saddam's lines, but basically, they were also moving through empty desert. Only the Marines, Syrians and other Arab coalition partners were moving into built up areas. It was all over before VII corps and the English 7th Armored had to face the Republican Guard in Basra, which could have been a nightmare. If 90% of the Guard cave in, the 10% left out ther in T-72's can inflict heavy casualties before they are taken down. The 101st and the French faced one big problem when the jumped past the flank of the VII Corps and occupied the road to Baghdad--and that was how to process Iraqi soldiers as fast as they surrendered. This is not to belittle the 101st or the French, they were in a war like everyone else there--but i'm pointing out that the fighting in the Gulf War, and what we could expect to face now, will be quite different animals.
Unless, as we have been wishfully thinking here, the Guard roll over an play dead, we would likely have to fight them in built up areas. Anyone with a modicum of military sense and a map in 1990 could see how fast Saddam's army could be cut off and chopped up--strung out as they were in empty desert with few and poor communications to an inadequate base in Basra, and a longer, more tenuous supply line to Baghdad. We aren't likely to have a plum like that fall into our laps again. If we go in, and even a quarter of the Iraqi army tries to make a fight of it, our casualties will be significant, even if we can end it quickly. We will likely have to go after them in built up areas, and will be driving them back onto their operational bases. We likely will not have the opportunity to absolutely plaster them for weeks from the air as we did in 1990-91, which destroyed the local material resources and morale of the opponent, and lead a great many of them to surrender as soon as they saw any soldier who wasn't Iraqi. In comparison to the Gulf War, the likely scenario is a relatively brief air attack, which will depend heavily on precision weapons, followed by a fight in built up areas. Many Iraqis will have no desire to fight for Saddam, but it won't take many to hurt us more than the Shrub anticipates. I don't see Rumsfeld and company telling Cheney and his crew that we are likely to have any problems or suffer significant casualties, but not to plan for that is the essence of military stupidity. Thomas Jackson would have told us not to take counsel of our fears, but he would also have told us to plan for victory, and make provision for defeat--our "leaders are doing the first, and ignoring the second.
F16's, Warthogs, Bradley AFV's -- all these toys will be pretty much useless in street fighting, and if the members of Saddam's tribe feel they have nothing to lose--we'll still have several thousand ready-to-die fanatics to dig out of the streets of Baghdad. And the Shrub really has no clue how tenuous his support for this operation is. Any long casualty lists will torpedo his regime--and although i'd love to see him go down in flames in 2004, i wouldn't give a single American or English life to see that. This is a bad idea, hatched by a suspect crew, tacked on to the justifiable rage Americans experienced after 9/11--but largely unrelated to those events. Even if we can manage to go in fast, and win in a short period of time, i think casualties are likely to be significant. I also believe that this is inexcusable impatience, and that young Americans and Englishmen will pay the price of their governments' cupidity. With the same effort applied to continuing the choke-hold the sanctions have on Iraq that the administration has put into twisting arms on the Security Council, we could starve Saddam out in, say, 15 to 20 years. The administration can't plan for the next 15 weeks, let alone envision waiting that long for Saddam to fall of his own ponderous weight. We're being led down the primrose path, and not enough objection is being raised.
Don't even want to go into what i believe would follow if we attack, win and occupy the country.
Thu 14 Nov, 2002 09:13 am
Setanta, interesting post. I agree our hope has to be that the Iraqi regime collapses and that US and British forces are seen as liberators. But I'm not optimistic. The Iraqi people as a whole might be fed up with Saddam, but they have also been subjected to another 10 years of his propaganda. And this time we are going to invade the motherland, not hold back and hope others overthrow him for us. The invasion of Iraq will galvanise and unite Arab and Muslim opinion. Whereas Saddam has before always cracked down on religious extremists, he might under attack and out of sheer bloody mindedness, give al Qaida some of the nasty weapons he can't use himself. I have no doubt there will be a war, this US administration is determined to have one. It just remains to be seen how many people get killed and in which cities and which countries. My only question is why does it have to be like this?
Thu 14 Nov, 2002 09:16 am
congratulations btw on your new status as "enthusiast"
Thu 14 Nov, 2002 09:16 am
'Cause the same clowns who blew it in '91 are runnin' the show now: Cheney, Rumsfeld & Powell. If you believe that the Shrub is the one actually runnin' this show, then i have some lovely lake-front property for you in Florida. Lemme know, i'll whip up a brochure for you right away . . .
Thu 14 Nov, 2002 09:17 am
T'anks, Boyo . . . now, if i only knew what the bloody hell to be enthusiatic about . . .
Thu 14 Nov, 2002 10:52 am
Actually, both of you have said all. But since I translated my response in the meantime, I will put my oar in as well.
Saddam Hussein will possibly cooperate with the weapons inspectors, but will certainly not meet Washington's full requirements. The question then arises: who is going to make the final decision on war or peace? U.S. President George W. Bush, or the representatives of Russia, France, and Syria -- who voiced their protests against war with Iraq in the Security Council? The UN resolution does not answer this question - as far as I see it. The conflict between the "allies" has not been fully resolved.
In practice, the situation is becoming ever more complicated, both on the prospective battlefield and in diplomatic circles. It is far from clear how to destroy Saddam Hussein's military targets without killing civilians. It is still questionable whether war would be waged to "free" the country or to "occupy" it without inflicting heavy damage in the Arab world.
Unanswered questions and diplomatic disputes will be ongoing, both within the Bush administration (I hope so!) and among the United States' apparent supporters.
Sat 16 Nov, 2002 09:58 am
I am totally cynical about the US motives. They are building up for war in January. All the diplomatic moves in recent months have been attempts by the US to gain some international support and to try and give it some legitimacy. But it doesn't really matter, the main event will go ahead as scheduled.